Another passionate write from the past

Another skeleton from the past! I have no idea why I wrote this but I suspect it was shortly after I had read our ICT policy. I don’t recall liking it that much. ICT wasn’t well defined within the document itself and I remember taking issue with the fact that the version I had read was written by an outsider…. I mean where are Basotho consultants?

A thought towards an innovative ICT Vision for Lesotho

Basotho during the reign of Moshoeshoe I and a few years that followed were a self-sufficient nation. Today, many Basotho live in severe poverty and under the threat of a new deadly disease, HIV/AIDS.

There is no doubt a need to restore Lesotho to its original state of self-sufficiency and wealth. The question however is: “can this be realistically achieved?” The answer itself is not that simple. However, if we were to look back into our history with the sole purpose of seeking valuable examples from our forefathers, then we could find an answer that would guide us back to prosperity.

For example, history informs us that this nation was not strong only militarily, but that it was such an industrious nation that though horses were a relatively a novel bred to them, in no time they had bred the type of horse that was suited for their territories. Their breed was so tough and sure-footed that the British when shopping for horses preferred the Basotho ponies to the Boer horses. (An excerpt from the inpiration page)

From the above example, it could be argued that just as Basotho did adapt the horse technology to their needs, they can embrace ICTs and adapt them to their specific needs and thereby create a niche market for ICTs. In so doing, Basotho would be able to address some of their needs and challenges that include the eradication of poverty and HIV/AIDS.

Moreover, through innovative use of ICTs and the political will of its leaders, Basotho can be helped to actually participate in “doing development for themselves”. This means using ICTs for the general empowerment of Basotho either as tool or an enabling environment for development.

Unintended ‘Imperialist’

As part of building the ontology for capturing knowledge about HIV and AIDS, I came across UNAIDS’ Terminology Guidelines document. The document presents preferred terminology for discussing matters on HIV and AIDS. For example, response to AIDS is the prefered alternative to fight against AIDS.

There are many examples, but one in particular, made me realise that in writing my proposal, I came across as an imperialist of sort! I used the term intervention a number of times in articulating the goals of my work. As aptly put in the document,

“[t]his term conveys “doing something to someone or something” and as such undermines the concept of participatory responses.”

In some circles, this translates to imperialism. So in such circles all I can really say in my defense is: I was but an intended imperialist in writing the proposal. I will in the future try as much as I can to avoid terminology that may be perceived in any negative light 🙁

Behavior Change Communication

On Thursday, I sort of told Lorenzo (one of my supervisors) that I tend to stray a lot while in cyberspace. To my defence, the internet is such a huge huge place and it is pretty difficult even with best intentions not to stray. Anyway, whilst I was straying I came across an interesting article on Behavior Change Communication (BCC) for HIV/AIDS from the Family Health International (FHI) site.

First things first, what is BCC? Quoting verbatim, BCC is:

” a multi-level tool for promoting and sustaining risk-reducing behavior change in individuals and communities by distributing tailored health messages in a variety of communication channels.”

So in the context of HIV/AIDS, BCC is about tailoring messages that will help in the prevention of this disease. In tailoring messages, BCC advocates development of a strategy that will create a demand for information and associated services. The essential steps in creating such a strategy is quoted below:

“The following steps incorporate careful analysis, feedback and redesign throughout the entire process. Step 1: Identify the problem based on the overall program goals. Step 2: Segment target populations. Step 3: Engage in formative research. Step 4: Identify behavior change goals. Step 5: Seek consensus from stakeholders.

Step 6: Design communication plan, including objectives, overall theme, specific messages and outlets for dissemination. Step 7: Pre-test and revise. Step 8: Target communication to specific groups. Step 9: Implement the plan. Step 10: Monitor and evaluate it. Step 11: Seek feedback and make appropriate revisions.”

Using Technology to Bring About Social Change

In my last post (over a month ago), I was more or less using photography for inspiration. I am not a photographer. However, I am a habitant of the technology world (but neither a geek or a technophile) and as such, I have a duty to advocate for the use of technology in bringing about social change. Today, by some fluke, I came across a blog on “How to Use Social Media for Social Change“. This blog moved me in almost the same way the photograph by James Nachtwey moved me. When I saw that photograph, one of my first impressions was: ‘something needs to be done; the man is practically walking next to his own shadow but in fact he is himself a shadow of his former self because of HIV/Aids’.

I derailed a bit, the point is, we members of the tech community need to rise to the call! We need to do something to bring about social change. We have a responsility to ensure that people don’t die due to HIV/Aids; lack of clean water and sanitation; hunger; etc.

Corridor of Death

A picture is said to say a thousand words. Below is a picture that resonates so much with what we would like to prevent – people moving into the corridor of death by Aids. This picture was taken by a renowned photojournalist and war photographer, James Nachtwey, just two days before the man met his fate. Looking at it from this context, I hope it is easy to see why the words “corridor of death” are associated with the picture. Further, I hope that this piece of fine art evokes enough emotion to cause each one of us to participate in the fight against HIV/Aids.

James Nachtwey's work


For true admiration of the original work visit James Nachtwey’s gallery .